WHISKY WORLD TERMINOLOGY

GLOSSARY

abv

(alcohol by volume) – amount of pure alcohol contained in an alcoholic beverage expressed in percent e.g. 43%.

post still

– copper container or still used for distilling whisky. Usually onion-shaped container, different distilleries use pot stills of different shapes – this influences the taste of whisky.

angel’s share

– loss of spirit due to evaporation during ageing in barrels. It depends on the climate, in Scotland it is about 2% per year, in India ca. 10% a year.

batch distillation

– distillation process done in batches, contrary to continuous distillation. Therefore, each batch may slightly differ from a previous one.

blended whisky

– mixed whisky obtained as a result of combining single malt and single grain whisky. Single malt is made form barley, single grain is made form wheat or corn. Proportions are not defined; it is enough to add a “teaspoon” of single malt for the final product to call it blended whisky.

blended malt

– not that long ago, this variety was known as “vatted malt” – a mix of two or more single malts.

wort

– clear sweet liquid obtained as a result of washing sugar from barley malt with hot water.

butt

– 500 litre barrel used for whisky maturation.

cask

– generic name for a barrel, regardless of volume, where the spirit is stored during maturation.

cask strength (c.s.)

– strength of whisky that was bottled with the natural strength of the barrel without diluting to the standard 40% or 43%.

column still

– also known as Coffey still and Patent still, continuous distillation.

chill – filtering

– cold whisky filtering process that aims at clearing the so called fatty acid esters that may cause the liquid to turn cloudy when the bottle is stored at low temperatures.

coffey still

– a distillation pot that revolutionized whisky production; patented in 1830 by excise tax inspector Aeneas Coffey. Also known as Column or Patent Still, it enabled producing large quantities of whisky much faster and cheaper than the traditional pot still, advancing the development of blended whisky.

draff

– residue in the vat after the mashing process has finished, i.e. blending ground barley with hot water with the aim of extracting sugar. After chilling, the sweet water is pumped to washbacks, the leftover sediment – rich in protein – is a great source of cattle feed.

dram

– a measure of Scotch whisky of an unspecified volume. Dramming was an unofficial practice offered to distillery employees during work breaks.

dunnage

– traditional warehouse for storing whisky barrels, built of stone, with a floor covered in ash and soil.

 dumping

– emptying barrel contents into a special container prior to bottling.

eau-de-vie

– literally „water of life”.

finish

– finishing is a relatively new process. After the ageing period in a specific type of barrel e.g. Bourbon, whisky is poured into another one, where a different type of liquor had matured e.g. Porto or Madeira.

grist

– ground barley malt, ready for mashing, that is: mixing with hot water.

hogshead

– often colloquially referred to as “hoggie”, a popular size of barrels for storing whisky, 250 litres.

malt

– barley prepared for whisky production in a specific manner by soaking it in water (steeping), sprouting and stopping the sprouting process with high temperature in special furnaces. The aim of this process is to break the grain cells to access the starch and to initiate the process of transforming it into sugars needed to obtaining alcohol.

malting

– process that allows to initiate sprouting of barley grain, which in turn facilitates reaching the starch storage in the grain.

maturation

– the period during which whisky is aged in oak barrels. During this time, pores in the oak wood allow whisky to interact with the atmosphere and let the spirit take in the aromas and the colour from the wood.

marrying

– mixing different kinds of whisky before bottling, mainly in case of blend production.

mash tun

– a vat where hot water washes out of sugars from the malt (usually 3 times, using water at a higher temperature each time).

mash

– mix of grist (ground malt) and water.

moonshine

– term used, especially in the United States, for illegally distilled whiskey, often times at night by the light of the moon. Night time minimized the risk of detecting such illegal procedures.

new make

– fresh distilled whisky, clear and with high alcohol content. The new make becomes whisky only after spending 3 years in an oak barrel.

no age statement

– term used to describe whisky where the manufacturer did not state the age on the label. Often instead of age, special designation is used to explain the whisky’s unique character e.g. Auchentoshan Virgin Oak, Three Wood, Bowmore White Sand, Aberlour A’Bunadh etc.

non chill filtered

– whisky that was not chill filtered and may become cloudy at low temperatures. In order to avoid this, whisky is bottled with a strength of at least 46% which is high enough to dissolve fat fractions and, at the same time, prevent the liquor from becoming cloudy.

ob

– official bottling – editions from distilleries.

from independent

– whisky bottled by independent distributors.

peating

– adding peat to a furnace during malt drying to create the peaty aroma and flavour in the whisky.

pot still

– a copper still. Its shapes and sizes in differ between distilleries. The diversity of shapes influences the character of the liquor produced.

proof

– term used for the amount of pure alcohol contained in an alcoholic beverage. American 100 proof = 50%.

reflux

– during the distillation process, some heavier alcohol fractions, with a high boiling point, condense and return to the still before leaving the distillation apparatus. The higher the reflux level the lighter and clearer the final product.

rye whisky

– whisky made from mash with at least 51% rye. It must mature for at least two years in freshly toasted American oak barrels.

saladin box

– device used for industrial (large scale) production of barley malt in a special square trough where air flows and special blades mix the barley.

single cask

– whisky made from a single barrel. Most single malt whisky bottles contain spirit from many barrels which are mixed together prior to bottling. Single cask is an edition where the number of bottles is limited by the cask’s capacity. The whisky is sold at cask strength and is often highly valued for its individuality.

single malt

– uniform whisky, a product of a single distillery, not mixed with other single malt or grain whiskies.

spirit safe

– a measuring cabinet, often made of copper with a glass front, inside of which are glass containers called hydrometers (measuring alcohol strength). The distiller mixes the spirit with water using “taps” to capture the moment when the “heart of the spirit” starts flowing from the pot still. Today this is mostly a decorative element in distilleries.

tasting glass

– a whisky tasting glass shaped like a tulip, pot still (glencairn glass), copita, spey dram, etc.

wash

– liquid at the end of the fermentation, ready for distillation.

washback

– a vat where fermentation takes place.

uisge beatha

„water of life” in Gaelic, due to English language influences the word went form uiskie  (ca. 1618), through usky (1736) to whisky (ca. 1746).

un—chillfiltered

– whisky that was not filtered chilled (why this is done, and what distinguishes filtered and non filtered whisky will be described later on, outside the glossary).

Whisky Live Warsaw 2018

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